Crime, &c

Miseries read since whenever I last possetted: Death of a Viewer (Herbert Adams) Socialist MP shot while watching television, in a country house.  The average British mystery is stodgy, badly written, and either transparent or banal in solution.  Unusually for its type, there's little police detection here, and no railway timetables.  There is, however, an … Continue reading Crime, &c


A belated Valentine’s Day

From the makers of The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius and Tiberius Goes Fishing: Love stories that Hollywood won't be making any time soon   DIDO AND ANANIAS   CALIGULA AND INCITATUS Remember, kids: Just say “Neigh!” (Caligula was fond of horses, but rarely stable.)   NERO AND AGRIPPINA Theirs was a love that ruled an empire – … Continue reading A belated Valentine’s Day

Omit Flowers (Stuart Palmer)

By Stuart Palmer First published: US, Doubleday, 1937.  UK, Collins, 1937, as No Flowers by Request. Kudos to Palmer for trying something new, even if it doesn't quite work. No Hildegarde Withers here;  it's one of those atmospheric jobs seen from the suspects' perspective. Grasping relatives descend on elderly eccentric Uncle Joel; he (apparently?) goes up … Continue reading Omit Flowers (Stuart Palmer)

The Man in the Moonlight (Helen McCloy)

By Helen McCloy First published: USA, Morrow Mystery, 1940 The Americans wrote better detective stories than anyone. [Discuss.  Argue.  Argue furiously.] Here's a good example why. "It was only when Lambert lifted his eyes from the decapitated mouse in his hand that Basil knew something was wrong." Murder interrupts a psychological experiment at Yorkville University. … Continue reading The Man in the Moonlight (Helen McCloy)

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

Second-hand bookshops are some of the most dangerous places in the world. It's impossible for me to enter one and not spend a couple of hundred dollars.  (This is Australian money; think of it as about 15 pounds sterling.) The one where I'm living this year is closing, and everything is going at half price.  … Continue reading Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

E.R. Punshon’s Crossword Mystery and the Nazis

This was part of my History Honours, in 2004. Britain in the 1930s is often typified as ignorant of the situation in Nazi Germany.  E.R. Punshon’s Crossword Mystery (1934) discusses the Terror: anti-Semitism, concentration camps and brutal oppression.  Would Punshon’s readership (the educated middle-class) have known of these things by the book’s publication in June … Continue reading E.R. Punshon’s Crossword Mystery and the Nazis